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Post-it Notes: great idea, but…

June 8, 2010

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the US-wide launch of the Post-it note.

The cleverest ideas are often the simplest, and so it is with the Post-it.  But one wonders about the extra paper that has been ‘consumed’ in the last three decades as organisations both private and public order supplies of Post-its along with mountains of printer paper. 

Consider those solar hot water panels in place on office and domestic buildings: they are a simple concept too, albeit more technical, but the difference is there is no wastage.  Quite the opposite: using the sun to heat your water saves money and reserves of fossil fuels.

So back to the office, and when we want to leave a note for a colleague, there are methods other than sticking a coloured square of paper on their desk or computer screen:

–          Send an electronic message (admittedly, this only works if your colleague starts up their computer).

–          Write your message on any old scrap of previously-used paper and place it securely under the colleague’s mouse (these convenient paperweights weren’t around in the pre-Windows era of the Post-it’s youth)

–          Arrange for everyone to have a small blackboard and a piece of chalk on their desks.  The slate can then be wiped clean once the message is read.

–          Get your colleagues to keep a large crocodile clip on their desks, to which your messages can be safely attached without being blown off by gusts of wind – after all, Post-it notes aren’t infallible in their stickability.

This last idea is a good chance to get your fellow workers’ input on ways of saving money and paper around the office.  While you are at it, you can suggest everyone takes their own mugs with them to meetings so that they don’t use the disposable ones on offer. 

Small sheets of paper, torn from pieces only printed on one side, can already be seen in many workplaces, clamped together by crocodile clips to form improvised notepads.  The blackboard and chalk idea could be a new one.  Entrepreneurs out there, please feel free to develop smart mini blackboards and earn a place in the corporate history books, like Spencer Silver and Art Fry of the American stationery conglomerate 3M, the Post-it note’s developers.  But just remember you heard it here first.

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